Compilation Champs
[SXSW 07 : back to cowman area]

Welcome to the SEVENTH edition of the Compilation Champs South by Southwest CD.

It was great to be with you this year in Austin. Some of you are old friends by now, and some I've just met. But I hope that you enjoy at least some of these songs, all of which have meant something to me in the past year. Canadian content is marked with a maple leaf. Feel free to get in touch with your comments (jamesATconsolationchampsDOTcom).

(The title of this year's mix comes from a charming Indo-Pakistani cab driver I met on the way to the airport last year. When I told him I was going to Texas, he said, "That's big cowman area, right?" Indeed it is.)

Islands - Rough Gem (2006, from Return to the Sea)

My album of the year. Quirky pop from two members of the now-defunct Unicorns. Another great Montreal band, too. What's in the water there?

Bad Brains - She's Calling You (1986, from I Against I)

D.C. anomalies Bad Brains were (and might still be) the only Rastafarian punk band around. I love how they can play both the ferocious punk of "Pay to Cum" as well as this almost absurdly slick brand of reggae-rock.

Ishmael United - Crowd Trouble (1979, from If You Can't Shout Saved…)

What Christian "punk" sounded like in the late 70s. Not punk because of the cheesy keyboards and lack of guitars, but still infectious. "Crowd trouble" is a euphemism for the hooliganism that often broke out at football (soccer) matches.

Ishmael (the United is a soccer reference to what I assume was his band) has continued to make music and is now known more as a children's performer.

Franz Ferdinand - Come On Home (2004, from Franz Ferdinand)

FF are yet another band I ignored until the hype died down. And then I found this infectious song.

Kishore Kumar - Ina Meena Dika (1957, from Aasha)

I'm amazed by the ability of the Bollywood performers of the 50s and 60s to ape the style of American music of the same period. Even the novelty hits.

Trotsky Vengarán - Bala Perdida (2005, from Tres Veces Mal)

The title translates to "Stray Bullet" and I love the poppy punkiness (or punky poppiness) of this song from a Uruguayan band that sounds like a South American version of the Ramones.

Matthew Sweet - Dead Smile (2003, from Kimi Ga Suki * Raifu)

This is from a CD Sweet released only in Japan, where he is extremely popular. He's extremely popular in my house, too.

The National - Friend Of Mine (2005, from Alligator)

This band consists of two sets of brothers and a singer. A great live band, their brand of off-kilter rock pleased me in 2006.

Hayden - Bass Song (2002, from Live At Convocation Hall)

You don't hear much from Toronto singer-songwriter Hayden these days, though he was huge a few years ago. This song is pretty, and then when you listen to the words, almost unbearably creepy and sad.

Unknown Artist - Untitled (2006, from Funky Forest: The First Contact)

This reggae song sung in Mandarin is in the Japanese film Funky Forest: The First Contact, the wackiest two and a half hours I've spent in a long long time. The song just drilled its way into my head and wouldn't leave.

Weeping Tile - Cold Snap (1996, from Cold Snap)

This Kingston, Ontario band were the launching pad for Sarah Harmer. I love the way the rock/punk music brings out the edges in her beautifully sweet voice.

Sarah Harmer - Weakened State (2000, from You Were Here)

One of the more upbeat numbers from Sarah's debut solo album. Her amazingly pure voice just cuts me down.

The Wedding Present - I'm Not Always So Stupid (1986, from George Best)

Another of David Gedge's fizzy-guitar tales of humiliation and lost love.

Howard Devoto - Rainy Season (1983, from Jerky Versions of the Dream)

Howard was the original singer of the Buzzcocks, then went on to front Magazine and Luxuria. He typifies for me the sort of cool and smart cynicism of the best of the post-punk era.

Of Montreal - She's A Rejector (2007, from Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?)

My first exposure to Of Montreal was their 1997 album Cherry Peel, a slice of naive-sounding pop. In ten years, their sound has deepened, darkened, and weirdened. It's as if your favourite teddy bear has suddenly grown tentacles. I like it.

And by the way, despite the name, they're not from Canada at all. Athens, Georgia, actually. So no Maple Leaf!

The Modern Lovers - I'm Straight (1973, from The Modern Lovers)

Last year I included "She Cracked" and I couldn't resist adding this song, too. Straight here refers to not being a druggy hippie, and I'm not sure Jonathan Richman really sounds completely straight. Loopy and heartfelt.

Islands - Swans (Life After Death) (2006, from Return to the Sea)

A song with more of an epic sweep from Islands, and a fitting benediction.

Thanks for listening, friends, and God bless. Thanks for sharing the week with me and enriching my life. I hope you took away more than you brought and I hope we'll meet again soon. Until then, Take Care.

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